Honda Civics are most commonly known for their distinctive sound of VTEC. For petrol heads, the sound of VTEC is a beautiful thing, but for neighbors, it is likely the furthest thing from beautiful they have ever heard. But until you carry out some minor upgrades your car is more than likely choked up and not singing as sweet as it should, so iv put together this list of must-have upgrades that are guaranteed to make your civic louder.
1 Upgraded Catback Exhaust System
The number one thing you can do to make your Honda Civic louder is by upgrading your exhaust system to a larger diameter exhaust pipe. This not only will make your Honda sound louder but it will also drastically improve the cars performance.
Stock exhaust systems are usually made of mild steel and 1.5 inches in diameter, with a catalytic converter and a resonator in the center of the exhaust pipe. The catalytic converter and resonators are there to improve emissions and reduce noise, but unfortunately they also drastically reduce power output due to restricting the flow of exhaust gasses being able to escape the engine.
Upgraded Catback exhaust systems are made from Stainless Steel or Titanium and come in sizes anywhere from 2 inches to 4 inches depending on the application, and when it comes to exhausts size always matters. That doesn’t mean the bigger the better. If you put a 4-inch exhaust system on a stock civic it will completely kill the power due to no back pressure being built up in the exhaust, plus it will sound ridiculous.
However, if you put a 2.25 to 2.5-inch Catback system on a stock or slightly tuned Civic it will make your civic sound much better and a lot louder, all while having the benefit of giving you more performance.
My overall favorite catback system if noise and power is what you want, is the 2.5-inch Buddy club Stage2 Catback exhaust system. I have this system on my Honda Integra DC2 and it sounds amazing, the sound of the VTEC crossover is crisp and distinct with an unmistakable rasp that you only get with a Buddy club.
Buddy club are built with the highest quality stainless steel and fully purge welded to guarantee 100% weld penetration. Buddy club also uses a clever design, instead of a solid bolted flange connecting sections of the exhaust together like most other exhaust systems, Buddy club has instead used a spigot and sprocket joint held closed with springs.
This joint type allows the exhaust to remain flexible while still keeping a gas-tight seal, plus it makes it very easy to assemble and disassemble the exhaust system.
If you want to make your Honda loud but not too loud the 2.25-inch Magnaflow Catback is the perfect system to suit your needs.
Unlike most catbacks, the Magnaflow comes with a resonator in the center section of the exhaust which does a good job of releasing the exhaust gasses fast enough to increase performance while still reducing the noise output and creating a nice deep distinctive sound.
Magnaflow exhausts also comes with a lifetime warranty so you can be sure they have absolute confidence in their work, unlike cheap Chinese brands that have very poor quality stainless steel and welds that eventually crack and result in hangers falling off and the exhaust dragging along the road.
2 De-cat The Exhaust System
De-cating the exhaust means removing the catalytic converter from the exhaust system. This allows for more exhaust gasses to flow freely from the engine. Doing this will make your car sound louder, plus it will also add more BHP to your car along with making it slightly more economical on fuel due to less effort being needed from the engine to remove the exhaust gasses from the engine.
There are two ways to remove the catalytic converter from the exhaust, the first way is by removing the catalytic converter from the car, then once you have it out, using a bar, you can break the material out of the inside of the cat. Then just reinstall the cat back into the car and job is done.
The recommended way is by buying an aftermarket de-cat pipe which will cost you between $50 and $100 depending on the manufacturer. De-cats come in a range of sizes, if you buy the exact fit for your car you should be good.
If you buy an adjustable, universal de-cat make sure you get the correct flange type and pipe width as sizes vary to suit a range of cars, you should get the same pipe size as the exhaust system on the car. Also be sure to check if it has a hole for a lambda sensor before you order one, unfortunately, some universal de-cat pipes don’t come with a hole pre-drilled which can be a problem if your car requires one.
3 Aftermarket Exhaust Header (Manifold)
An aftermarket exhaust header is a must-have if you want your Honda sounding sharp and pulling hard, plus a shiny new aftermarket manifold is a nice-looking addition to your engine bay.
Stock exhaust headers are designed to be restrictive to reduce emissions and produce the desired specifications of the manufacturer. This restriction is done by having tight bends in narrow bore header pipes, making it more difficult for exhaust gasses to leave the engine.
Aftermarket headers are usually a straight pipe down out of the engine and into the exhaust to give the shortest route of least resistance.
Aftermarket headers vary in size and design to give different performance outputs. The most common design type for a Honda is a 4-1 manifold, meaning the four pipes leaving the engine converge into one pipe where it meets the exhaust system, as seen in the picture above. The other type of header is the 4-2-1 header, meaning the four pipes merge into two and then into one.
The difference between a 4-1 and a 4-2-1 header is that the 4-1 header has been proven on a dyno to produce more top-end power due to having very little backpressure because of the four straight pipes leaving the engine, whereas the 4-2-1 produces better mid-range power, making it the perfect street exhaust where your rev range will typically be between 3K to 6k RPM.
Another benefit of the 4-2-1 header is that it provides much more ground clearance because of only two pipes running under the engine.
When it comes to noise difference, the 4-1 header is by far the louder of the two because its so much less restrictive with a higher rate of flow allowed by the four individual pipes. I can say from personal experience the 4-1 manifold is the way to go if your looking for the most bang for your buck, the only downside is ground clearance can be an issue if your car is slammed.
Exhaust manifolds are exposed to a lot of heat daily, this heat ever so slightly expands and contracts the steel in the manifold. This makes exhaust manifolds more prone to cracking especially if the manifold is made from cheap stainless steel. That’s why it’s advised to buy a good quality header rather than a cheap knock-off that will 100% crack in the future. This will save you money buying another one down the road plus the time it takes to replace the manifold
4 Aftermarket Muffler (Backbox)
If you want to make your civic louder but don’t want anything crazy, you could always just replace your stock muffler with a slightly bigger aftermarket muffler. Replacing your muffler for an aftermarket one will give your Honda a nice deep hum without the need for ear plugs.
There is a massive range of muffler to choose from and the choice is down to personal preference. An aftermarket muffler wont do much to improve overall performance so choosing the correct one is more so down to aesthetics than performance specs.
The only thing you need to be sure of is that you order the correct fit for your car unless you are handy with a welder. There are universal mufflers available but they require your original exhaust to be welded to the new muffler which can be tricky for people who cant weld.
5 Install An Aftermarket K&N Air Filter
Installing an aftermarket air filter is by far the cheapest, quickest, and most convenient way of making your Honda civic louder. The air filter is connected to the inlet manifold, which allows air into the engine.
Stock air filters are contained within a breather box at the front of the engine bay, the breather box is designed to trap air and then send that air through the air filter which then enters the engine.
The problem with the stock system is that due to the air filter being inside the breather box, the volume of air reaching the actual filter is very limited.
When you install an aftermarket air filter you eliminate the breather box, meaning the air filter is gulping up every bit of air that hits the front of the car, not just the amount the breather box can feed it, meaning a significant boost in power along with the car sounding much nicer. The noise you can expect is a deep throaty sound ,which is perfect if you want to make your car louder but not too loud.
The only downside to installing an upgraded air filter is that fuel consumption will increase slightly. This is because the more air you give the engine means it must compensate and give the engine more fuel to keep the correct fuel-to-air ratio. This adjustment of the fuel is minuscule and done automatically through the car’s ECU.
As you can see there are many ways to make you Honda sound louder with prices ranging from $50 to over $1000 if your going for a high end manufacturer. With that been said for the average driver who just wants there civic to sound nicer spending $200 will give you the same benefit as spending $1000, this is because for the top end of the scale the price is more dependent on the performance needs not just noise, so you can have you car sounding the same as the $40k drag machine by just adding these simple upgrades listed above. For more tips on how to make a civic faster you need to check out this article.
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